The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975 Page: 31
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Hamilton P. Bee in the Red River Campaign of I864
arrived from Shreveport. The three men had coffee at Bee's campfire and
listened to the sounds of wagons and other movement that testified to enemy
departure. Before he left at ten, Taylor told Bee to return to the battlefield
and picket the enemy lines. This Bee did, with some of Buchel's men, and
quickly established that the enemy had not moved yet from his forward lines.
Picket fire soon died down, and after midnight all that could be heard were
the groans and cries of the wounded still on the field."'
Hamilton Bee probably felt fairly pleased with himself that night. He had
met the enemy in open combat and had acquitted himself gallantly. He had
received praise from the commander of the army, Richard Taylor. He had
been privy to the highest councils when Kirby Smith visited his camp. His
excitement showed in his reports, which were considerably more "eloquent"
than his letters from Brownsville had been. Bee was generous with his praise
for his men and modest in his accounts of his own actions.35
But Bee did not escape criticism. John G. Walker, commanding the in-
fantry division which Bee's cavalry was to support at Mansfield, did not
consider him fit for command of a large body of troops because of his con-
duct. In that battle Bee had failed to accomplish his designated purpose
when his men became entangled in the woods and were unable to attack the
enemy rear. This failure and Bee's "general want of appreciation of the
necessities of the moment" were the reasons why the Confederates had not
captured Bank's entire transportation and artillery, according to Walker.
The infantry commander claimed that Bee had "failed on the eighth to take
any share in the engagement, or in any manner to contribute to the success
of the day .... " And as if that were not enough, he charged that Bee had
not been "eager to retrieve his mistake on the following day." When ordered
to be in line of battle before daylight, he was not ready until a half hour
after sunup, by which time others were already in pursuit of the enemy.8"
It must be pointed out that Walker was wounded in the last stages of the
battle at Pleasant Hill and knew nothing of Bee's activities of that day. Al-
though that certainly would not erase any previous mistakes, it might have
influenced Walker to be a little more lenient. Whether anyone could have
brought cavalry through the dense pine woods on time is impossible to de-
termine, but the general does not seem to have taken the terrain into ac-
34Barr (ed.), "Mechling's Journal," 368; Bee to Hart, report, April Io, 1864, O.R.A.,
XXXIV, pt. r, pp. 608-609; Taylor to Anderson, report, April I8, I864, ibid., 568;
Taylor, Destruction and Reconstruction, 165-168; Parks, Kirby Smith, 388-391.
asBee to Hart, report, April io, 1864, O.R.A., XXXIV, pt. I, pp. 6o8-6o; Bee to
Hart, April i o, I864, Mechling Subcollection.
36Walker to Boggs, August I5, 1864, O.R.A., XLI, pt. 2, pp. zo66-xo67.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975, periodical, 1974/1975; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/m1/49/: accessed January 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.